Islamic group wants ‘Left Behind’ left behind

Via this post from Gamasutra, people from the Council on American-Islamic Relations have asked Wal-Mart to stop selling the game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces,” claiming that the game could injure interfaith relations while promoting violence in the name of religion.

Here’s a sample from the letter written to Wal-Mart from CAIR executive director Nihad Awad:

“We believe the message this game is promoting is one of religious intolerance. The game’s enemy team includes people with Muslim-sounding names. When asked about the Arab and Muslim-sounding names, Left Behind Games’ President Jeffrey Frichner said, ‘Muslims are not believers in Jesus Christ – and therefore cannot be on the side of Jesus in the game’. (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12/06) As you may know, Muslims do in fact revere Jesus as one of God’s prophets.

“In the post 9-11 climate, when improving interfaith relations should be a priority for all, this type of product only serves to dehumanize others and increase interfaith hostility and mistrust.?, added Awad. Each year, CAIR issues an annual report on the status of American Muslim civil rights, outlining hundreds of incidents involving anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment and hate crimes. It is our experience that many of these incidents result from Islamophobic rhetoric and negative images of Muslims in popular culture…?

“We have no desire to stifle creativity or inhibit freedom of speech. However, it is our duty as America’s leading Islamic civil rights group to promote mutual understanding and ensure the safety of Americans of all faiths,? continued Awad. “We also believe that as a company that prides itself in hiring and offering services to a diverse group of people, it is Wal-Mart’s corporate social responsibility to take into account the potential social impact of its decision to sell this harmful game. We, therefore, respectfully request the removal of the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces from your shelves.”

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in regards to this game (if anything), but we’ve witnessed the delicate balance of religion and entertainment for years — and it was only a matter of time before religion made its way into the current gaming culture. Especially where the Muslim world is concerned. We saw the complaints about the movie “Kingdom of Heaven,” we see it with the “Left Behind” games, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it when “Assassin’s Creed” hits the stores. This could all lead to intriguing — and possibly heated — discussions in the next few years.